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Macrobiotic Overview

The macrobiotic approach is based on the premise that we are what we eat, and that our environment and daily interactions influence our health, happiness, and well-being. The type of food and the quality of the food we eat not only sustains life, but also directly affects the health of our physical body and our thoughts, mood, happiness, and behavior. What we choose to eat and drink and how we live our lives determines who we are. The macrobiotic approach emphasizes the importance of good dietary and lifestyle habits as a way of life.

The term "macrobiotics" refers to a philosophy of working with the natural order of life. The natural order of life is a term used to signify living in harmony with nature, and eating a simple and balanced diet in order to live to an active old age. A macrobiotic diet combines the elements of Buddhism with dietary principles that are based on simplicity and the avoidance of "toxins" which come from eating dairy products, meats, and oily foods. The macrobiotic approach to health recovery can be used along with conventional and alternative medical treatments, and is compatible with and adaptable to all forms of religious and traditional cultural practices. The Macrobiotic diet is mainly a vegetarian diet, although animal products may be included on occasion, if desired.

Although not scientifically proven, some practitioners claim that following a macrobiotic diet regimen can prevent and cure diseases such as cancer, and that it can also enhance spiritual and physical well-being. Food is an important part of maintaining good health, and therefore it makes sense that following a diet of wholesome, nutritious foods may help to protect against cancer and other harmful diseases. Everyone will surely benefit by increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and reducing their fat, sugar and salt intake. However, macrobiotic diets can lead to poor nutrition if not properly planned or if taken to an extreme.

Some earlier and more limited and strict versions of the diet were actually harmful to ones health and was especially dangerous for those who were ill or very young. The restrictive version was found to be unhealthy, and is no longer promoted by macrobiotic practitioners and consultants. Maintaining good nutrition is still a valid concern for those who follow a strict version of the diet. As with vegetarian and vegan diet regimens, a macrobiotic diet may be lacking key nutrients such as iron, calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and zinc. Proper care must be applied to insure that an adequate amount of calories, protein, and other essential nutrients are included while on a macrobiotic diet.

An important principle in macrobiotics is that food is the most important factor in determining the critical energy balance that is needed to achieve and maintain good health and well-being. The objective is to maintain balance of the two elementary energy forces called yin and yang. According to ancient Asian spiritual traditions, this balance is present within all people, foods, and objects and is commonly known as Chi (from Chinese), Ki (Japanese) or Prana (Indian) energy life-force. These two forces must be in balance in order to achieve and maintain health, vitality, and harmony. Followers of the macrobiotic diet believe that it is possible to balance these two conflicting energies by eating foods that have equal quantities of yin and yang. It is harder to maintain a well-balanced diet with foods that are high in either yin or yang energy fields. Therefore, the macrobiotic diet needs to be tailored to the individual by a macrobiotic nutritionist.

More and more doctors approve of a carefully planned and monitored macrobiotic and vegetarian diet for all stages of ones life cycle, including while pregnant and during breastfeeding, childhood, and adolescence. These dietary regimens can and should be customized to meet a persons nutritional health needs. You should consult your doctor and nutritionist before starting a macrobiotic or vegetarian diet. Your doctor may want to review your levels and adjust any medications you are taking.

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